PATRICK MIKHAIL IN MONTRÉAL PRESENTS FUNKLOCH, AN EXHIBITION OF PHOTOGRAPHY BY MONTRÉAL ARTIST THOMAS KNEUBÜHLER
Patrick Mikhail Gallery in Montréal is pleased to present FUNKLOCH, an exhibition of new photography by THOMAS KNEUBÜHLER.
A Funkloch is the German term for a place with no cell phone reception. As cell phone coverage has reached even remote regions, these zones are becoming more and more rare. For this project, Kneubühler went to the Swiss Alps and hiked until his cell phone went silent.
The exhibition Funkloch is part of Thomas Kneubühler’s ongoing investigation into how new technology is shaping the perception of the world. It follows his project Landing Sites, where a transatlantic Internet cable served as a starting point to reflect on the change in communication speed over time. At the heart of his new project are cell phone towers in the Swiss Alps - or in the case of Funkloch, the absence of them. They act as a conceptual framework to look at places that are usually not a destination.
How does our sense of a place change without being constantly connected to somewhere else? Funkloch pays attention to a landscape that is not instagrammable and has no location tag. Many of the places turned out to be steep side valleys, far from tourist places where you can find a sheep farm at best. Places that are often in the shadow, as they are surrounded by high mountains, resulting in rather dark images. Landscape photography is known for its play with light. By focusing on the shadows, the images are subverting this approach. Also visible are contrails produced by aircraft exhaust - as as if there is no escape from technology, even in the blackspot of an isolated mountain valley.
The exhibition coincides with the release of Kneubühler’s new book Alpine Signals – Twentysix Cell Towers in the Engadin, and some of these cell towers are also present in the exhibition. While closer to settlements, these cell sites mark another kind of non-place. They are a mundane but critical infrastructure, yet unnoticed most of the time.
Thomas Kneubühler uses photography and video to examine complex socio-political issues and the limits of representation. His work is based on extensive research, including fieldwork in sometimes remote locations or in places where access is restricted. In the process he uncovers unseen links in order to heighten our consciousness about issues often forgotten or suppressed, while not surrendering art’s formal and aesthetic power. Over his career, Kneubühler has explored issues surrounding the privatization of land use, the exploitation of natural resources, questions of power, and the effects of new technology on society.
Born in Solothurn, Switzerland, Thomas Kneubühler has been living in Montreal since 2000, while keeping his ties with Europe. In 2003, he completed a Master’s degree in Studio Arts at Concordia University, Montreal. His work has been presented in exhibitions and screenings in both Europe and North America, among others at the Centre culturel canadien, Paris, the Kunstmuseum Bern, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, at the Videonale.15 im Kunstmuseum Bonn and at Les Rencontres International in Paris and Berlin. In 2011 he was awarded the Pratt & Whitney Canada Prize of the Conseil des arts de Montréal, and in 2012 the Swiss Art Award by the Ministry of Culture Switzerland.